For the first time in 120 years, the Vanderbilts are completely out, and archivists have moved in.
On March 30th, Paul and Gladys Szápáry unceremoniously vacated their family’s third-floor apartment of the Breakers, the iconic Gilded Age mansion constructed by their great-grandfather, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, in 1893. (His younger brother, George Washington Vanderbilt II, built his own private paradise, The Biltmore, around the same time in North Carolina.)
Like generations of Vanderbilts before them, the Szápárys spent summers in the Newport, Rhode Island "cottage" since birth. After the Preservation Society of Newport County purchased the home for $366,475 in 1972, however, the heirs were relegated to the mansion’s upper floor—which boasts eight bedrooms and views of the ocean. The rest of the 70-room estate was opened to the public.
Relations between the family and the Preservation Society appeared good until this past January, when a preservation architect and an engineer concluded that the mansion’s ventilation, electrical, and plumbing systems were “dangerously outdated for residential use.” For the first time in 120 years, the Vanderbilts departed their ancestral home.
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Despite a statement from the Preservation Society insisting that it was an amicable split, rumors swirled that the “decommissioning” of the family’s third-floor apartment was actually in retaliation for their opposition to a proposed Welcome Center on the grounds.
Speculation and palace intrigue aside, a former Preservation Society employee, who, according to Town & Country worked on the Breakers archives for the past seven years, recently posted a series of photos from the contested living space on Instagram, offering the public a first glimpse at what the eight-room apartment looks like today.
Scroll down for a rare look at the former family apartment, courtesy of archivist Jason Bouchard.
For more photos and to follow along with Bouchard’s archival efforts, check out his other Instagram account, here.